Emboldened Taliban Promises Little for Religious, Women’s Rights

August 24, 2021 Updated: August 25, 2021


Many people would have seen the horrific images of the unstoppable advance of the Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. This advance was accompanied by brutal repression, executions of those suspected of collaborating with the government or its American allies, and denigration of women and girls.

Specifically, the scenes witnessed at the airport of Kabul on Sunday and Monday last week were apocalyptic, with people clinging to planes and falling out of the sky.

The whole country was overrun in eleven days by the Taliban.

When they arrived in Kabul, they found a city that was essentially undefended. Taliban fighters moved into an empty Presidential Palace—President Ashraf Ghani had flown into exile. It was as if the keys to the city were handed over to this terrorist group that will soon declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

U.S. President Joe Biden conceded that the events occurred much more quickly than his administration anticipated. However, rather than accept responsibility for the carnage, and collapse, of Afghanistan, he blamed the country’s political and military leaders for giving up and fleeing the country.

In denying its role in the collapse of Afghanistan, the U.S. president’s response reveals the naivete of his administration. It is also symptomatic of the malaise that is threatening the democratic heritage of the West.

However, a bigger issue looms for democratic allies and that is the impending human rights crisis that could emerge under the Taliban rule.

The Taliban’s authority is already being recognised by certain authoritarian states.

When it was last in power in 1996, the group was recognised by just three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

This time around, Russia, Pakistan, China, and Iran have all kept their embassies in Kabul open, while countries like Australia and the United States have closed theirs.

Moscow has already recognised the Taliban’s authority, and is encouraging other countries to establish “good relations” with Afghanistan’s new leaders and to “stop the irresponsible policy of imposing alien values from the outside.”

Beijing has also expressed its desire to fully engage with the Taliban leadership diplomatically, calling for “sound relations,” while Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan enthusiastically claimed the Afghans had “broken the shackles of slavery.”

Even the European Union has now decided to at least partially recognise the Taliban.

“The Taliban have won the war, so we will have to talk with them,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, said at a news briefing. “It’s not a matter of official recognition. It’s a matter of dealing” with the Taliban.

So what are some of the immediate consequences of this emboldened Taliban? The first ruling Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001 could give us some indication.

First, the Taliban’s ideology will likely galvanise terrorists worldwide. Fighters even announced on television that their mission will only be completed when the whole world is subjected to their brand of Islamic terror. There will thus be a heightened sense of uncertainty in the West, with the possibility of more devastating terrorist activity.

Second, a certain consequence of the collapse of the Afghan government is that the abominable discrimination and oppression of women and girls will resume.

In an article published on Aug. 16, Greg Sheridan, foreign editor at The Australian wrote:

From now on, once more, young girls, pre-teens, will be married off to much older men, often enough with multiple wives.

Young girls won’t be allowed to go to school, they won’t be allowed to learn to read and write, let alone sing, they won’t be allowed to practice most careers, they won’t be allowed to go to the bazaar without the permission, and generally the presence, of their controlling male relative.

Third, the return of Taliban rule to Afghanistan means a return to Sharia Law, the group’s interpretation of Islamic religious law.

To know what it means, Afghan Christians on the ground have reported that, with the takeover of Kabul, they expect to be killed. Some reports confirm that the Taliban is already “conducting targeted killings of Christians and other minorities found with Bible software installed on their cell phones.”

Since the Taliban’s fall in 2001, the Christian community grew considerably, in part because of the modicum of security provided by the American occupation.

In 2019, many Afghan Christians voluntarily included their religious affiliation on national identity cards. Now the United States’ withdrawal has left Afghans facing the imminent threat of public executions, floggings, and amputations under the Taliban.

Christians are reportedly escaping to the hills in attempts to find safety. Meanwhile, expect democratic governments—including Australia’s—to have limited power to protect Afghan women and religious minorities.

There will now be recriminations and relentless criticisms of how the war was waged.

Some will say disparagingly that the alliance approached the Afghan project as a gentlemen’s sporting event, and that there never was a willingness to get the job done.

Of course, the defeat had little to do with the technological or military capacity of the United States and its allies, but more to do with a breakdown of the values and the resolve of the West to achieve measurable results.

The blood of the innocent will result in a clamber for justice when democratic leaders inevitably turn a blind eye to the genocidal actions of this terrorist group.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gabriël Moens
Gabriël Moens
Professor Gabriël A. Moens AM is an emeritus professor of law at The University of Queensland, and served as pro vice-chancellor, dean, and professor of law at Murdoch University. He has published a novel about the origins of the COVID-19 disease, “A Twisted Choice,” and recently published a short story, “The Greedy Prospector,” in an Anthology of short stories, “The Outback” (Boolarong Press, 2021).
Augusto Zimmermann
Augusto Zimmermann
Dr. Augusto Zimmermann is professor and head of law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Perth. He is also president of the Western Australian Legal Theory Association, editor-in-chief of the Western Australian Jurist law journal, and a former law reform commissioner in Western Australia.